The Cotswolds is a region of England marked as an AONB (Area of Outstanding National Beauty) and is within a stone’s throw of where we live. But as we can’t drive, we weren’t able to visit the area till this summer where we decided to take a daytrip with the tour company Go Cotswolds. We’ll present the good and not-so-good parts of our daytrip.
Top tip: Driving is most definitely the best way to see the Cotswolds. Chart out a sensible route and don’t be afraid of stopping at small villages you may not have heard of, these may end up to be your favourites!
The daytrip company
Go Cotswolds was really good for non-drivers like us. Small group size of around 16 in a minivan were picked up from rail stations / hotels in the Leamington / Stratford and nearby areas and driven around the area with interesting commentary. At £40 a person, it is quite reasonably priced. Tom, the guide, is a true traveller at heart and keeps things interesting through the day. Recommended!
It was the 1st town we visited and checked off all the Cotswolds things to do for us.
Cotswolds architecture (including thatched roof houses) ✔️
A cathedral ✔️
Interesting shops on the High Street (and good ice-cream) ✔️
And who can possibly not like a town whose restrooms are called “Public Conveniences” (which were immaculately maintained by the way).
Tip: The thatched roof houses are a short walk from the high street, south of the Kings Hotel.
Snowshill: The “secret village”
We hate to be the one to spill secrets but the day trip did mention that we were going to see a “secret village”. This turned out to be Snowshill where some scenes of Bridget Jones’ diary were shot apparently. It is indeed a pretty village with much lesser people than every other stop. The local pub was lovely, we would have liked to partake in a Sunday roast lunch there.
This was actually quite a fun stop because it is essentially a small castle tower built specifically so some rich English dude could pretend to see a castle in the faraway distance. Talk about first-world excess. The area is a nice walk with great views on a sunny day. There is also a herd of deer and a nuclear bunker in the area making it a worthwhile stop to walk around in.
Crowds at Bibury & Bourton-on-the-water (popular locations)
We were left underwhelmed by the row of cottages in Bibury mostly because all their pretty images on social media are quite photoshopped (the Arlington row of stone cottages). Plus, we’d already seen as pretty villages in the leadup to visiting Bibury. But the crowds were a real dampener, especially at Bourton-on-the-Water. We spent most of our time there inside drinking tea and eating scones. But Bourton-on-the-water did redeem itself with some delicious salted caramel ice cream (recommended by our guide Tom).
Lunch options in Stow-on-the-wold
Because of the large number of tourists in the Costwolds on a Sunday, we either could not get a table for 4 in places we wanted to eat at or they’d just stopped serving food. We only had enough time to eat some seafood at The Old Butchers which was exceptionally fresh and well-prepared.
Tip: Make sure you have a booking for lunch at your lunch stop (on a tour or otherwise) if you’re out during a summer weekend.
Dover’s hill (first stop)
It is a good stop for city folk who don’t see the countryside much but for someone who has seen the breadth of Scotland, this was quite an underwhelming view. But the main objective of the stop was to discuss about the Cotswolds and the make up of the day tour ahead, which Tom did quite well.
It was clearly a tale of two halves with the first half of our day being a better experience than the latter. A driver in the local area sums it up best in this Reddit thread.
“If you are driving around and have a day or two free then I would say forget about maps and sat navs and just get lost. You’ll never see it all as it’s just truly massive but you will have a great time and you’ll fill your cameras memory cards up.”
Alternatively, for the fitter among us, the Cotswolds Way is a good day out as well. The area is beautiful indeed and worthy of a day out, if not more.
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